Peter Decherney

Peter Decherney, Ph.D.

Peter Decherney
  • Professor of Cinema Studies and English, School of Arts and Sciences
  • Director of the Cinema Studies Program, School of Arts and Sciences
  • Faculty Director, Penn’s Online Learning Initiative

Peter Decherney’s areas of expertise include media industries and the impact of intellectual property law. He is also a documentary and virtual reality filmmaker.

Peter Decherney is Professor of Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and Faculty Director of Penn’s university-wide Online Learning Initiative. He holds a secondary appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication and an affiliation with the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition at Penn Law School.

He is the author or editor of six books including Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet and Hollywood: A Very Short Introduction. Prof. Decherney has also written for The New York Times, Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, and other publications. 

He is an award-winning documentary and virtual reality filmmaker. Since 2015, he has directed a series of documentary and virtual reality films about global migration and on the political role of artists in Myanmar, Kenya, Ethiopia, and the U.S. His virtual reality docuseries, THE HEART OF PUERTO RICO, about artists in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (co-directed with Jean Lee) won the Best VR Film at the 2020 AT&T Film Awards. His documentary, DREAMING OF JERUSALEM (co-directed with Sosena Solomon), about the Jewish Community in Gondar, Ethiopia is a Discovery+ original.  

Prof. Decherney has been an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scholar, a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and a U.S. State Department Arts Envoy to Myanmar. He is an award-winning teacher, whose open online course on the history of Hollywood has enrolled more than 70,000 learners. He serves on the advisory boards of several online learning organizations including Coursera, 2U/edX, and the Center for Reimaging Learning, and he is an advisor to Honor Education. 

Selected Publications